Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation. A guide to the steps and the benefits

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1 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation A guide to the steps and the benefits

2 The Office for the Community Sector (OCS) was established as part of the Department of Planning and Community Development in The primary role of the OCS is to support and contribute to the longterm sustainability of the Victorian not-for-profit (NFP) community sector. The OCS works with other government departments and authorities to reduce the impact on community organisations of government accountability and compliance requirements and supports the sector to build capacity to continue to be responsive to the needs of Victorians. The Community Child Care Association of Victoria (CCC) is an independent non-profit organisation that provides training, resources, advice and advocacy. CCC works to support the provision of quality, affordable, community-based family and children s services. CCC believes non-profit community-based services provide a benchmark for quality children s services. This guide examines the characteristics and strengths of the community-based service model. It looks in detail at: How to set up locally-managed community organisations; How to make community organisations more socially inclusive; Community strengthening and social inclusion outcomes that flow from community-managed organisations. Case studies Six Victorian community-based children s services provided information about how they work for the purposes of this project. Participating centres were from a range of regional, metropolitan and urban fringe areas, of differing sizes and varied between small, integrated and stand- alone services. The Centres which took part were: the Clarendon Children s Centre, the Flemington Cooperative, the Kensington Community Children s Cooperative, Corio Bay Senior Secondary College Children s Centre, Remus Way Children s Centre and the Swan Hill Out of School Hours Program.

3 Table Of Contents Introduction 2 The Victorian community sector 4 Overview 5 Section one: Getting started 7 Section two: Engaging the broader community 12 Section three: Developing a process 18 Section four: Funding 21 Section five: Long-term management and stewardship 25 Section six: Ensuring social and economic participation 32 Section seven: Assessing your organisation s effectiveness 37 Appendix 1: Literature review 38 Appendix 2: Sample action plan 48 Appendix 3: Principles to consider 50 Appendix 4: Resources 51 1 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

4 Introduction In 2010, the OCS funded CCC to create a guide to setting up successful community-managed services. Community-based services, which are managed by community groups on a not-for-profit basis, connect people to one another and play a key and unique role in providing the conditions necessary to ensure that everyone has access to services and assistance. According to the Victorian Government s 2011 Victorian Families Statement: We need our neighbourhoods to be safe and friendly Patterns of work, family and social life are all changing, and technology is allowing us to link up in new ways. Our communities continue to become more culturally diverse and we need to promote understanding and openness. In the face of change it remains vital that people feel a sense of belonging and take pride in our community. This report is intended to inspire those involved in creating, managing or working within community-based services to think critically about how such services can best contribute to people s social and economic participation. This guide uses community-based children s services as an example of how community services of all types can build and strengthen communities and ensure that everyone has access to affordable, responsive, high quality community-managed services and facilities. The evidence gathered during this project clearly shows the importance of community-managed services and the many benefits which apply from the community management of such organisations as neighbourhood houses, community education centres, refuges and information and referral centres. Child care organisations have been using community-managed models for several decades and the sector has, as a result, gathered long-term experience and evidence about what works very well. Because of this experience and expertise, the OCS approached Community Child Care, the peak body, to prepare this publication. 2 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

5 This document has been developed in the context of a nationwide trend for community organisations to consolidate into larger organisations and for corporate, for-profit models to develop at the expense of models characterised by local ownership. At the same time, the growth of new communities experiencing rapid population growth around our cities and regional centres has not been matched by a concurrent growth of new community-managed services. This absence brings a heightened risk of social isolation and exclusion at a time when communities are experiencing an influx of new people seeking to make connections and needing information and resources. It is hoped that this document will provide a useful tool in ensuring that community-based services are included in new greenfield areas and areas experiencing rapid population growth to assist in the building and strengthening of these communities. They will also continue to be a viable and much needed resource in established communities. This publication brings together international and national literature with evidence from case studies of various models of Victorian community-based children s services to assist local community workers and volunteers to determine the best way forward in setting up sustainable, communitymanaged services. 3 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

6 The Victorian community sector There are some 120,000 NFP community organisations across Victoria which provide a wide range of support and services for the benefit of local communities or communities brought together by shared interests, such as sporting clubs. This sector also plays a crucial role in helping to build communities by providing the means for people to get together to undertake adult learning activities, participate in sports, arts or other personal development activities or come together to protect local heritage or environmental sites. The community sector is also a major contributor to Victoria s economy. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated that in , the value of the NFP sector in Australia was one and a half times that of the agricultural sector. Community organisations are critical to the Victorian government, delivering $2.2 billion of services on its behalf in Much of this delivery is essential to people s wellbeing, health and safety, and delivered by a range of organisations including community health centres, family and children s services, mental health services and emergency services, such as the State Emergency Service and Country Fire Authority. The roles community organisations played during the 2009 bushfires and the recent floods highlight their significance. These organisations not only provided emergency relief, food, clothes, money and counselling and referral services but also drew on their established networks to facilitate the marshalling of local community responses. The OCS publication There When Needed provides examples of the important roles played by community sector organisations during and after the 2009 bushfires. Ensuring that Victoria has a diversity of NFP community organisations is important for the vibrancy of our communities. In addition to large, multi-site agencies, we also need local, community-based organisations. There is evidence that local participation in community organisations helps to strengthen emotional support, contacts and resources for individuals, as well as feelings of integration, belonging, harmony and safety at a community level. 4 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

7 Overview This document is designed to be an easy to use guide to creating a community-managed, NFP service or organisation. It outlines key considerations, tools, resources and some good practices for initiating community-managed services. The information provided is designed to be flexible so that it can be adapted to suit different communities and in the development of different NFP services or organisations. The guide is designed to be of use to both people employed to support communities (by such organisations as local government authorities) and people who voluntarily give their time to determining the need for community-managed organisations and then assisting in the setting up, and possibly management of, such organisations. For example, parents in a local community can become involved in the creation of a community-managed child care service if there is sufficient demand not being met by existing providers or an absence of local providers. In developing this publication, national and international literature was assessed to gather evidence to support the need for a range of community organisations to be in place to build community capacity. Case studies of various models of Victorian community-based children s services have been provided which outline the features of community-based services which contribute directly to the development and maintenance of viable, inclusive communities. And while community-based children s services are used as the example of how community services of all types can build and strengthen communities, the conclusions apply equally to other sectors in which community management of services is an important theme, such as neighbourhood houses, community education centres, refuges, information and referral centres. 5 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

8 Some definitions to think about before getting started: What is a community? For the purposes of this document, communities of primary interest are geographical communities the residents of precincts, towns, suburbs, and especially the residents of newly-established communities. The boundaries of communities may not be clear cut and this may be beneficial in ensuring that potential members are not excluded. Involvement in or use of community-managed organisations in newly established communities can, for example, also include future potential residents. This is because community engagement activities can act as a draw card for people in choosing where to live. What is a communitymanaged service? Community-managed services are generally needs-based. This means that their primary purpose is to provide services for a target group of people with identified or perceived needs. A community-managed service should be an integral part of community life, reflecting the attitudes and style of both the locality and the service users. Community life and the life of the service/organisation should overlap: ideally, service users will understand more about the community and feel part of the community through using a community-managed service. Some examples of communitymanaged services are communitymanaged child care providers, neighbourhood houses, refuges, information and referral services and community education services. 6 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

9 Section one: Getting started Community-managed services are created when community members have sufficient desire and capacity to initiate and sustain them. Communitybased services cannot exist unless there is a strong and viable community in which those services can indeed be based (Ife 2009). The key ingredients that communities need to start the process of creating a community-managed service, and otherwise reach their potential, include: local leaders access to information and other resources effective and inclusive processes. The process towards the development of a community-managed service can begin with a conversation triggered by a person or people experiencing or becoming aware of an opportunity, need, problem or an interest, who then agree to discuss this further with a view to finding a solution. In meetings or discussions to identify common experiences and awareness, it is important that everyone involved is prepared to listen and to not try to impose preconceived ideas about what could or should be done. This includes paid community workers who may be involved from the outset. Tip: Listening Much is written about the art of listening. Listening is the most difficult and also the most neglected element of communication. Of all the time we spend on communication activities, about 10 per cent is spent writing, 15 per cent reading, 30 per cent talking and 45 per cent listening. Listening is actively receiving all sorts of signals. It is about concentrating on what is actually being said. It is not passive hearing: it is an activity. Apart from listening, there are other important steps that can be taken to facilitate shared awareness and support for a new community service/organisation. These are outlined below: Think This can be done collectively, preferably with a couple of other people in a similar situation to those who have identified a need, opportunity, problem or interest. Think through what needs you have, what your goals are, and in what sort of place you want to live, learn, work and play. Canvass The neighbourhood or potentially interested community members to find out who is there, what their needs are and what resources exist. For example, work out if there is anyone who can contribute time, money, energy or ideas. This can be done by door-knocking, letter-boxing, putting advertisements in a local newspaper, using radio talk-back sessions, setting up Facebook or Twitter pages, sending out online surveys, posting notices at milk bars, schools, community supermarkets, health centres and more generally, just talking to everyone including neighbours, teachers, social workers, church leaders, young people s groups, senior citizens groups, police, etc. 7 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

10 Meet Call a meeting with people who have an interest or skills to share. Make sure this is at a time and place that suit as many people as possible. Talk Make sure that everyone gets their say during the meeting. Good questions to ask at a community meeting may include: What goals do we share? In what sort of community do we want to live? What extra support or services might we need to make this community a better place to live? At first, these discussions may seem wide-ranging but it is essential to think clearly about these issues at the outset and to achieve common understandings. All plans, policies, routines, practices, staffing decisions, and budgets of a community-managed service flow from the goals held in common by community members. When everyone is clear and agreed about their common goals, decisions become much easier to make. It is also important to keep talking outside of formal meetings to keep community conversations going. Ongoing communication is required to discover the different opinions held by your community members and to learn more about what you all want What is a good question? Good questions are constructive; they focus attention on possible solutions, they encourage reflection and they open up discussion. Examples of good questions include: What do we have in common? How can we bring our ideas closer together? Can we hear from those who have not yet spoken? What (else) do we need to discuss to solve this issue? Find common ground Focus first on what is agreed, rather than on any areas of disagreement. Try to develop the areas of agreement. When people in a meeting or other discussion seem to agree, write it down, repeat it back and check if there is agreement for what has been written. Set aside areas of disagreement for later, but make sure that these conversations are held, not postponed forever. When discussing areas of disagreement, concentrate on understanding and acknowledging each person s perspective and acknowledge when people s views begin to converge. These converging ideas can form the basis for a shared vision, aims and ideas about what to do next. 8 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

11 Identify local leadership These may be people who seem to know most about what s happening and who s who in the community and related organisations. They may or may not be formal leaders in a community but they will probably be doing, or previously been involved with, volunteer work or participation in other community organisations. Keep a constant look out for emerging potential community leaders. Support potential leaders to articulate their vision for their community and to establish and maintain robust relationships and networks to keep in touch with diverse ideas in their community. Collect information and other resources Small working groups of community members may be willing to work together to collect the information and other resources you will need to determine whether your service is needed and can be made viable. Here are some ideas about what information to collect: Find out who else is active in your community. What other organisations are based in your neighbourhood? What services are available? Who is eligible to use these services? Is there a waiting list? Who owns them? Do other services visit your neighbourhood? Make a map of who is who and what they do. This will help you to figure out what additional services are needed. Get information from various sources such as employers, door-to-door interviewing, mailed questionnaires and schools. Search on the internet to find local organisations: try or It is smart to use a mix of data collection methods. Consider asking people... if/how they access current services, why do they want more services, what kinds of services do they want, what amount of money they can or are willing to pay for these services, and any other special requirements they may have. Find out what plans your local government has for your area. Identify your local councillor. Invite her or him to join your discussions. Ask at your local library or your local government office about what information is available about your area. There may be published reports based on the national census that you can borrow. 9 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

12 Case Study When the ABC Learning Child Care Centre in her neighbourhood closed down, Nawal became worried that she would have to leave her work to care for her two children. She was anxious about how she could manage with less money. She could not afford the other for-profit child care service available locally and she had no family living nearby. She talked to some of the other parents at the centre and asked them what they were planning. She noticed that many of the parents were in a similar situation. Nawal suggested the parents meet together to discuss what they needed. It became clear that what everyone wanted was a resource for the local community a place where children could feel safe and connected to the wider community and where parents could meet and support each other. The parents were not sure what they could do, so they decided to get some help and advice. They brainstormed about who might be able to help them and they divided up some jobs between themselves. Saleema approached the local council; Zaafira called CCC; Genevieve talked to the YWCA and Maryam rang the Muslim Women s Association. When they met again to share their information, they were able to make a list of the resources available. Of particular interest was information gleaned from the local council and CCC that another big community organisation, Power to the People, was already planning to buy the centre. Over the next month, Nawal and the other parents met several times with Power to the People. The organisation was relieved to meet the parents as they too had a vision for community ownership of the centre. Power to the People helped Nawal and her friends to expand their group and consult others in the community. They also offered to provide ongoing support for the group to transition into a formal parent advisory committee, with a view to the committee taking over the management of the centre after two years. Make sure your process is inclusive Valid and effective solutions to community needs can be found only if all community members are involved to varying extents in the entire process, from defining the issue right through to solving the issue. Effective and inclusive processes encourage participation. Consider the following: Host and conduct conversations in places where people already gather to ensure they are on their own turf and feel some control of the process. Good places to consider include shopping malls, sports ovals, picnic areas, libraries, and playgroups. Once potential community leaders emerge, support them to invite friends and neighbours over for morning tea or a kitchen conference to meet the facilitator of the community engagement process and other paid and unpaid community workers and to discuss issues and ideas that are emerging from the analysis of community needs. Prepare easy-to-use questionnaires on issues that have already been identified as hot topics in the community. More information on engaging your community can be found in Section Two. 10 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

13 The involvement of community workers In some instances, communitymanaged services come about as a result of ideas or approaches made by people employed in such areas as community development. These people are most often employed by local government authorities. Community workers are often motivated in their work by an awareness of a need or gap in the local community. In working with other community leaders and members to find the solution to meet this need or gap, it is important that the community engagement process start without a set destination in mind. This will ensure that people interested in being part of this process are given an opportunity to have real input, rather than just being told what the outcome is going to be. Tips for success When in doubt, ask questions. Good questions can be more helpful in inspiring discussion than having an answer. Avoid thinking that there is one right answer. Encourage divergent points of view. Encourage risk-taking. Brainstorm to encourage creativity. Record all ideas; ask for feedback. Avoid pressuring people to participate. Remind everyone that the process is important and that a good process produces better and more sustainable results in the long term. Managing timeframes and expectations For communities considering setting up a new service/organisation, there is a risk that change may move at a faster pace than the community can accommodate, resulting in a lack of community engagement and a loss of control. This risk increases when outside interests, such as a donor or politician, require that a community make a decision or take action within a certain timeframe. It may be helpful if community leaders and community workers can work together to remind these outside interests that the process is important and that a good process produces better and more sustainable results in the long term. 11 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

14 Section two: Engaging the broader community Community-managed services work best when they enjoy widespread support from community members and when community members participate fully in the planning, policy making, governance and day-to-day running of the organisation. This is why engaging the broader community at every stage of your deliberations is critically important. This section provides resources for the mobilisation of the community in the development of community-managed services. Our Community, a valuable resource organisation for community groups, advises that one of the most powerful tools that any community group can use is its ability to inspire and engage people to support their ideas for how to benefit or develop the broader community. By this, they do not mean just recruiting individual volunteers, although that can be important. This means rallying support within a community from institutions, other NFP groups, government agencies and media outlets. Many community initiatives start from a little seed and just grow and grow. Including the right people It is important to invite a wide range of community members to be involved in setting priorities and making decisions about creating a new communitymanaged service. Excluding important parties may delay or jeopardise the process at a later stage. Here are some suggestions for whom to include: people with expertise, knowledge, experience and information concerning the situation, difficulty or opportunity people with the right to be involved people who will be directly affected by the process, the decision or the implementation of the decision, including potential service users people who can give some weight to the result by being involved in the process people who will gain skills, expertise and experience or will benefit from involvement in any way people who have available time and energy. Determining community priorities Setting priorities begins after a range of options and ideas have been identified. Brainstorm with the group as many ideas as you can. In reviewing the ideas of the group, consider which are most urgent and which are most important. Group similar ideas together. Test your ideas against some core principles of good community services (see boxed text.) When setting priorities with a group, there are several techniques which can be used. Ask group members to select their favourite idea using coloured dots, or number their first (three points), second (two points) and third (one point) priorities. Add up the votes to find the highest priority. Alternatively, work to achieve consensus. Consensus is usually the most time-consuming approach but it may be essential if everyone is going to implement the decision. Note that consensus without alternative views and debate almost always means that other viewpoints are being ignored. Remember also that the core values and central interests of group members must be protected: every viewpoint proposed by group members is valid and legitimate. 12 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

15 It is important to regularly check your priorities to ensure they remain current. Keep in touch with information about your community at all times to ensure that changes have not occurred that may affect the relevance or order of your priorities. You will need to review your priorities regularly in light of new information that comes to hand. Core principles for good community services Accessibility: Will the services that we propose be available to everyone who may need to use them? Relevance: Are the services we propose really going to meet the community s need/s? (Many community services do not meet the highest priority needs of community members.) Integration: Will the proposed services connect to and complement other existing services? Empowerment: Will they support and strengthen existing community networks and help create new ones? Inclusiveness: Will the proposed services be relevant to different ethnic and cultural groups and people of all abilities? Participation: Will they involve community members at every possible level in decision-making, administration and daily operations? Making decisions The information and other resources that you have collected so far will come in very handy to support your decision-making processes. Be clear about what your rules and procedures are and how and by whom decisions will be made. Some core issues need to be defined clearly and consensus must be reached on these core issues. When processes are transparent, open and democratic, it is easier for others to join them. The key decisions to be made will likely include: What is your overall aim? Who will be part of the core organising group and what roles will each group member play? Often you ll be able to form a group quite easily, other times it won t be so easy. Ultimately it will come down to networks. What types of services would you like to see? What issues will you prioritise? What action will you take to achieve those objectives? What will be your key messages? Who are your potential partners? Which potential partner will you approach first? What strategies will you use to engage each partner? 13 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

16 Case Study The Flemington Co-operative is a not-for-profit, parent-run long day care centre that caters for pre-school children from six months of age and older. Flemington Co-operative is a community-based and community-managed centre; therefore it depends on active participation from parents. The Flemington Childcare Group was formed in February 1978 after several families found it impossible to obtain care for their children in the area. In late 1979, the group was officially recognised as a co-operative. Services to families have been offered since February The Co-operative is firmly embedded in its community and engages a wide diversity of community members. There are good relationships, for example, with the nearest neighbours: the staff and children engage in happy banter with the neighbours in an adjoining high-density residential development. Neighbours are happy to return equipment waylaid over the fence and return sprightly chickens that have escaped from the centre. There are also good relationships with decision-makers. The local Victorian Member of Parliament frequently visits the centre, particularly when promoting matters relevant to early years policies and programs, as well as broader community needs and aspirations. Reaching out to potential decision-makers and partners Your community group should look to make connections with decisionmakers and potential partners such as local councillors or members of Parliament, community agencies already providing services in your community, and other possibly influential people. If the need for a service is urgent and there is insufficient time for community members to be able to manage it, an existing community agency can be asked to help establish the community service. Meet with the community agency and explain clearly what you want. Consider asking the existing community agency to commit to working with emerging community leaders to support them in participating in the management processes and then ultimately taking over full management of the service. Set a realistic plan and a timeframe for how and when this can happen. It is important that community leaders can directly engage with decisionmakers in government and not rely solely on community workers to do so. Community workers can be very helpful and may have valuable experience in lobbying or advocacy that they can share with community leaders. A community worker may also be able to facilitate dialogue with decisionmakers. It is important however, that community leaders feel confident enough to speak authoritatively about what is happening in their community as the preparation done to this stage should mean they are ideally placed to do so. Remember, when dealing with authorities, treat them politely and respectfully. This is important from the outset to build a good working relationship. Setting up communitymanaged organisations takes time and you may need to work effectively with such people for a long period. 14 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

17 Once you have the attention of a potential partner and/or another decision-maker, keep up communication with them... and with other supporters, the general public and those you want to influence. People like to feel included and to be up to date. Strategies and approaches Strategies for engaging people are as limitless as the imagination. Try to be as creative as you can so that your ideas will be widely recognised and understood. Consider: establishing a website using addresses to send updates to your supporters, e-group or online fan page planning visits to, or by, federal, state and local government representatives offering to seek photo opportunities with local decision-makers in local papers knocking on doors dropping newsletters into letterboxes organising functions or public events. You will probably want to use different methods to engage different people at different stages of the process and these should be decided on according to current needs. It is rare that one method on its own will be effective. Below is a list of the most common methods for community engagement used by community groups, but don t feel limited by what is here. Public meetings Public meetings are a good way to put an idea on the table, to encourage the discussion of ideas, and to promote exposure to a diversity of opinions. Public meetings can involve an open microphone, where anyone can come up and talk, or a panel of people (usually experts) discussing the issue. A `learn-in could be organised to provide a discussion on the issue being discussed or advocated, or engaging a speaker might be an effective way to provide information. Often the biggest hurdle you will face is a lack of public awareness, and public meetings can stimulate people to think about the issue. The main aim of a public meeting should be to try to work towards a solution or offer some alternatives relating to the issue/s. Small working groups It can be very useful to sort out what has to be done, in what area and who is going to be responsible for it. Divide up the jobs into themes and form small working groups to ensure that these jobs are completed. One or two people can coordinate and a steering committee is often a useful tool, but steps should be taken to make sure all the work or decisionmaking is not left to a small group of people. Set up lots of working groups or project teams. Make sure that each working group has one key contact person and that meetings are always open to newcomers. Expect community members to be involved in at least one project of their choice. A job for everyone and someone for every job. 15 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

18 Surveys A common approach to engaging people is a survey. Surveys can be useful if they contain broad and open questions and are being used to ask questions of people who are already aware of the issue/s at hand. Surveys are not a way to inform people, so asking them questions without the participants knowing what is possible will be a waste of time. It can be difficult to design a good survey. Avoid leading questions designed to get the answers that the surveyors wanted in the first place. For advice about how to create a survey, consider approaching the social sciences department of your local tertiary institution, say a TAFE or university. There are also now several online survey companies which charge small fees and provide some advice about designing surveys. Helpful advice on how to conduct a community needs assessment is also available online from the United Kingdom s Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Centre: ohs.acf.hhs.gov. Decide if your survey will be best done electronically or in paper format or both to increase the scope of the audience you can reach. Petitions/Letter-writing Once it is clear exactly what you want, petitioning can be a great way of engaging people. The effort required is minimal it takes only a few seconds to put your name and address on a bit of paper or on a website which increases your chances of getting people involved. It also engages people and gets them thinking about the issue and your proposed solution. The petition can later be used in your advocacy work. Perhaps a sympathetic local councillor can present your ideas to a council meeting. Public meetings are an ideal place to get signatures for a petition, but so is the local shopping centre or anywhere else where a large number of people congregate. You must be able to identify the signatories to a petition and this means having at least an address but preferably a physical address as well. Too many petitions do not get enough details from the signatories and are rendered useless. Anyone can make up 200 names from random suburbs and write them down. You need to be able to prove that these people actually exist. You can create a petition online for free at Letter- or -writing requires more effort from participants than petitioning, but they tend to carry more weight than a simple petition. One personal letter is probably worth 100 names on a petition. Asking people to sign a standard letter will encourage people with less time to be involved. However, standard letters are never as effective as a letter someone has written for themselves. A good compromise position combining the potential for critical mass afforded by the standard letter with the impact of a personalised letter is to provide some suggested points people can use in their letters/ s. The busy ones can cut and paste, the more creative ones can add their own personal touches. 16 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

19 Social media A new generation of innumerable online tools and applications makes it possible to communicate and engage with others in creative, instantaneous ways. It makes sense to start by mining the networks that you have already established. If, for example, you already have a Facebook page, blog or a presence on LinkedIn, use these vehicles to explain your plans and invite others to contribute. You may also consider setting up an online discussion forum or fan page. For more ideas for using social media, consider visiting Beth Kanter s blog: Beth is the author of The Networked Non-Profit, and she writes daily about how networked non-profits are using social media to power change. Key questions to consider Are there segments of the community that are not engaged in our discussions? Who are they? How can we engage them more fully? How will we engage the widest possible range of people in setting priorities and making decisions? How can we help everyone involved in decision-making to find the right role for themselves? Do our decisions fit with the core principles for a good community service, that is, a service that is genuinely community-owned, accessible, relevant, connected and inclusive? What interests do our potential partners have? How can we align ourselves with or appeal to these interests? Further resources Visit the Our Community website to learn about successful community groups: marketplace/marketplace_article. jsp?articleid=893#columns 17 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

20 Section three: Developing a process It is no easy task for a community to develop a service or organisation which is responsive to identified needs, inclusive, accessible and sustainable. However, following a rigorous, effective process which provides opportunities for people to be listened to and allows time for information to be gathered will ensure that the organisation has been established on sound foundations. Building a sense of ownership If people are to be engaged and continue to support the development of a community-managed organisation it is important that, at all stages, they all feel informed, listened to and their input valued. Good relationships are at the heart of a good process. Relationships are based on trust and this can take time to develop. Important relationships in such a process include those between community workers, community leaders and other community members. It is important that no one person try to dominate these relationships or the process being undertaken. Here are some suggestions for making sure that everyone has a sense of ownership of the process: Don t have one person dominate meetings. Have everyone sitting down rather than one person standing while others sit. Initiate small group discussions wherever possible and give all participants the opportunity to chair discussions. Ask people for their contributions. Empower others. Start by asking each person to reflect and make notes or lists for themselves before they start discussing with others. This gets everyone thinking and makes them realise that they already know something about the subject. The notes and lists also give each person something to share. This leads to group discussions which are more democratic because each person has a note of things to say. Empower groups. Give tasks to groups. There are many sorts and sizes of groups. Much of the best analysis seems to take place in small groups of three to five members. Case Study When attending a fundraising trivia night, Martin and Santina became excited by the work being supported by the fundraiser. A support group offering friendship to a small town in East Timor was raising money to build a school there. Santina thought it would be great if their own municipality of Hightown could start a similar support group. She visited Freya, the Hightown community development worker, who explained that local government does not initiate such programs but can provide support to ratepayer initiatives. Freya offered Santina advice and information about how to discover if there would be support for such a group in Hightown. She also agreed to meet with Santina and a small group of neighbours and friends to discuss the issue further. At the meeting, Freya explained that all the thinking and planning for such an initiative shouldn t only involve the people of Hightown it was important to ensure that the people of East Timor also had a say in developing a relationship or friendship with the group. 18 Setting Up a Community-Managed Not-For-Profit Organisation

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